Keynote Address by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the SG Sustainable Procurement Forum on 6 December 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon. I thank the National Sustainable Procurement Roundtable (NSPR) for inviting me to today's forum.
Climate Action post-COP26
2 Last month, I attended the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP-26, in Glasgow. It was a productive conference that demonstrated the strong support for a multilateral approach in accelerating the momentum of global climate action. Notably, Parties agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate pledges as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal.
3 Parties also managed to finalise the Paris Rulebook, which provides guidelines for how the Paris Agreement is delivered. This was after six years of discussions. Singapore was pleased to have contributed to the success of COP-26 by co-facilitating ministerial consultations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on carbon market rules.
4 As a small island state that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Singapore had an important stake in COP-26. We are pleased that Parties were able to reach an agreement on the Glasgow Climate Pact, which will help drive ambition by all Parties over time. Singapore will continue to deliver on our commitments and review our policies and actions to strengthen consensus and galvanise climate action globally and regionally.
5 Earlier this year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, our national roadmap towards sustainable development and net-zero emissions. The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete targets across all sectors over the next 10 years. It will be enabled by a Green Government, with the public sector leading in environmental sustainability; and Green Citizenry, where individuals, communities and civil society play their part.
Transformation through Green Procurement
6 As a major buyer of goods and services, the public sector will leverage green procurement to influence our service providers and suppliers to be more sustainable. Under the GreenGov.SG initiative, the public sector aims to peak its carbon emissions ahead of the national target. Public sector agencies will purchase products that meet high resource-efficiency or sustainability standards. The Government will also progressively consider suppliers' sustainability related policies and practices when evaluating tenders.
7 Companies are leveraging green procurement as part of their sustainability efforts. This presents a big opportunity for procurement to participate in the decarbonisation conversation. By procuring sustainably and setting emission reduction targets throughout the complete supply chain, companies can help to reduce emissions.
8 Let me share two examples of how companies have incorporated sustainability into their daily procurement decisions. The first example is Mandai Wildlife Group's Sustainable Procurement Roadmap. In this roadmap, 21 product categories ranging from food to wood products were prioritised for sustainable sourcing. These categories were determined based on criteria such as top spend and impact to the environment. Mandai has achieved 100 per cent sustainable sourcing for cooking oil made from palm oil. The Group has also ensured that the seafood served at its F&B outlets are sustainably sourced. Other products such as animal feed and apparel will be progressively incorporated into the roadmap.
9 Another example is DBS, which developed a Restorative Procurement framework that incorporates several aspects such as circularity, carbon, biodiversity, and social agenda into its operations. The framework rewards suppliers at different stages of their sustainability journeys for achievements varying from small improvements, to those with larger impacts. DBS' procurement team has since partnered suppliers to complete 25 sourcing projects incorporating one or more of these sustainability aspects. I understand that as part of its sustainable procurement, computer laptops were delivered to DBS in cartons of up to 7 laptops, instead of individually, to reduce packaging materials. Suppliers were also evaluated on their end-of-life services – such as the collection of old equipment for proper recycling.
Growing Importance of Sustainability
10 According to the EcoVadis Sustainable Procurement Barometer 2021, global companies' priority rank on delivering on corporate sustainability goals has increased to 63 per cent in 2021, as compared to 25 per cent in 2019. The same study found that reducing cost as a priority has decreased to 36 per cent in 2021, as compared to 56 per cent in 2019.
11 Another recent SEC Newgate report has found that the top ESG (Environment, Social and Governance)concern among Singaporeans is that companies should take responsibility for their supply chain. This is followed by giving back to nature and the communities, and over reporting the positive environmental impact they deliver.
12 These studies provide a clear signal – having a sustainable supply chain is not just the right thing to do, but also important for business. Sustainability is dominating the conversations for many big corporates in Singapore, and we expect the same to be happening in the SME space soon. The $180m Enterprise Sustainability Programme launched by ESG in October aims to support local enterprises in developing capabilities in sustainability, and to capture new opportunities in the green economy.
13 Another programme that companies can tap on is LowCarbonSG. This is an 18-month programme led by the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) Singapore to help raise companies' awareness of climate risk. There is also Green Compass, an initiative by A*STAR SIMTech, JTC, and TÜV SÜD. This offers a set of software assessment tools, methodologies, and training workshops to help businesses across sectors transition to more sustainable and resilient business models. Companies can take advantage of such initiatives to accelerate their efforts to make their businesses more resilient and sustainable.
14 To conclude, climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. The actions we take today will not just impact us, but our future generations. I urge organisations, and procurement and sustainability practitionersto continuously innovate and push the boundaries on sustainability, including adopting green procurement practices. Our collective efforts will help to build a more sustainable Singapore for all.
15 Thank you, and I wish you a fruitful forum ahead.